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Mumbai gets another human milk bank

Thursday, February 15, 2018
By Steffy Thevar

Nair hospital starts ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’, a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) ward for needy infants and mothers

After the King Edward Hospital (KEM) and Lokamanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (Sion Hospital), Nair hospital has started a human milk bank according to the rising demands and to reduce the pressure on the mentioned two banks. Annually about 400 to 500 kids require human milk externally and so this bank will provide relief to these kids and their families. As of now, cow's milk was being provided to the infants who are unable to drink their mother's milk. Nothing compares to mother's milk, as it not only provides them with nourishment but also is the sole source of immunity building for an infant. However, in extreme situations wherein the mother or the child is unable to benefit from breast milk, such human milk banks come handy.

An overpopulated city like Mumbai cannot have enough human milk banks despite the fact that there are donor mothers available. Doctors also point out to the fact that many a times, the lifestyle makes it difficult for the mother to lactate or sometimes the child is unable to drink the milk. Dr. Sushma Malik, the head of the Department of Pediatric Disease Department, said, “There are quite a few incidents wherein the mother is unable to lactate or the child is under treatment and so is unable to suck the breasts. Even in that case, a mother's milk can be fed externally. A good storage facility is required to store the human milk which is precious and priceless. Donor mothers are the most crucial part in this bank and so we encourage more and more young women to come forward.” Dr. Ramesh Bharmal, Dean of Nair Hospital said, “We have started this facility especially for kids who are kept in the NICU and are unable to get their own mothers' milk.”

Often, underweight kids or those suffering from  birth difficulties are kept away from their mothers. The mother and the infant are kept in separate wards and for the child's treatment which can sometimes deprive the mother-child duo of a chance to meet each other and share love. In order to keep such kids near their mothers during treatment, a special facility of 'Kangaroo Mother Care' is being started at the Nair Hospital. Under this, beds will be kept for the mother at the NICU ward, where the mother will be able to stay with the child until completion of the treatment.

As per the information from the hospital, just like a kangaroo which does not let its child go away and keeps it in its pouch till it is mature enough, this centre too will keep the mother close enough so that the child is healthy enough that it no more requires any treatment. Eight beds are being installed in the hospital's NICU ward, where the mother can easily live and spend more time with her child.

Dr. Malik added that although the hospitals of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have a similar facility, most of them only have chairs for the mother to come and sit for sometime close to the hospital. It becomes very difficult for the mother too since she has recently delivered her child and in case of a C-section delivery, a mother would not be able to sit up straight for a long time and so in such a situation, beds are most comfortable for the mother while she stays along with the child 24x7 hours. Doctors recommend such a facility as this significantly improves the recovery rate of the child by staying close to the mother. Dr. Bella Verma, Head of Department of the Pediatric Disease Department from JJ hospital said that during such illnesses, there is a lot of benefit when the mother stays close to the child as the bonding results in quick recovery. The chair facility at Nair hospital will now be upgraded to a bed facility.

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